|Gillian and Rudi|
On Wednesday May 9th 15 members attended the studio of prominent sculptor Rudi Jass. The feeling that we were going to see something special was created as we entered the gated enclave he shares with two other businesses, to be greeted by some spectacular examples of Rudi’s art at the entrance of his studio, in Bayswater North.
Rudi is well known as a leader in the design and manufacture of elegant and intriguing water features, garden art and more recently kinetic sculptures, specialising in corten and stainless steel. Rudi was born in Germany in 1953 and was trained as a motor mechanic, working primarily on Mercedes and Porsche cars. He also spent 3 years in New Guinea working as a Mercedes technician as well as on Porsches so he was well versed in dealing with quality manufacturing.
As he tells it, his development as a full time sculptor since 1990 came about in a roundabout fashion. When he first came to Australia in 1983 he was working with the local Porsche importer for 3 years,then he established his own motor workshop in Richmond. One day a customer asked him if he could weld up a candelabra for him if he brought some steel along. Rudi was happy to do so and started thinking about different designs. He welded up two different designs and showed them to the customer who liked them even more than the design he had in mind. A week later the customer returned with an order of 10 of each design for a friend with a shop in Toorak Road. Rudi then decided to focus more on sculpture and took photographs of his designs and sent copies to magazines like House and Garden. Rudi started to receive orders and made numbers of garden objects including metal baskets, and steel garden benches and tables.
He also took a stall at the Southbank market and met a trained sculptor in glass, Laszlo Biro, at a nearby stall. This started an “apprenticeship“ and relationship that led on to the creation of a successful range of water features incorporating glass in their designs. Photos sent to Burkes Backyard resulted in yet more orders including one order of 20 benches to a hospital as far away as Port Augusta. Rudi then set up a web site that got 900 hits in the first few weeks and has contributed greatly to his success. He purchased his spacious studio/factory four years ago and has invested in what he claims is the minimum of equipment, mainly large electrically operated shears for cutting sheet metal, equipment for bending tube, plus Mig, Tig and oxy welding equipment as well as linishing and polishing materials and machines. Rudi has worked full time as a sculptor since 1990, and admits that he is constantly thinking of new designs at all different times of the day, even in bed, which I am sure is the case also with many members. He tends not to draw out his designs in a very finished form but prefers to sketch an outline or make a half size version that not only serves as a maquette for future commissions, but is often sold as well.
Altogether members were very impressed with the frank and open way Rudi explained the way he came to being a sculptor. A chain of serendipitous encounters and circumstances, together with his considerable skill and talent with a sculptor’s relentless drive to create, that most members can relate to, has placed him in the leading ranks of sculptors in Australia today.
Full illustrations of his extensive designs and details of his impressive list of exhibitions and awards can be seen on his web site www.jassdesign.com.au